Simple, practical skills to teach your kids when traveling
A family vacation can be a great time to spend some time together, exploring new places and experiencing new things. If you plan it right, though, your next vacation could actually be educational, without your kids ever catching on. In other words, it’s possible to make your child smarter through travel.
There are all kinds of studies that show the positives that come with travel, but it really comes down to teaching five simple and practical life skills. Altogether your child becomes smarter and your entire family creates memories to last a lifetime.
Here are 5 simple, practical skills to teach your kids when traveling that will make them smarter and teach them basic skills.
The first skill is currency. Essentially, it’s reinforcing simple math skills your kids learned in school, by putting them to use in real life. No matter where you’re headed, you’re likely to run into a store or gift shop along the way.
This makes a good opportunity for your child to purchase something small and figure out how much it costs. If you’re traveling abroad, have them help convert the cost of the item from one currency to another. This is a good skill to work on before you leave home. Your child can then repeat the skill again and again throughout your trip.
2. Maps and Navigation
Another great skill to work on with your child during a family trip is using maps and navigatiion to get from place to place. Again, this is a skill you can start teaching your child before you leave home. Have them, say, pick out one specific destination you plan to visit. It could be a museum or any other place they’re excited to see. Help your child map out the best route from your hotel. You can either print out the map or save it to your phone.
To make it a little more complex, try planning out the route with a combination of Google Maps and train schedules. Once you arrive at your hotel, have your child put their new skills to good use by guiding your family to the destination they helped map out. This not only teaches your child a practical skill but also gets them more involved in the planning portion of the trip and more excited about what’s to come.
3. History/Topical Research
Another great skill involves research and presentation. Your child doesn’t have to wait for a teacher to assign a research project. Instead, make it a fun part of your trip. Before you leave home, have your child pick out one particular thing or place to “own” during the family trip. This could be a landmark, a statue or even a painting at a museum you plan to visit. Have your child decide what it is and do some research ahead of time. Once you arrive at that particular spot, let your child be the expert and present what they already know to the entire family.
You can also get your child excited about the trip by reading up on a specific location in advance. Immerse yourself in the region through books as a family. One great website to check out in advance is The Family Backpack. Among other educational resources, the site offers a downloadable guide to travel related books by location. You can also try the Kids Travel Books website which offers an interactive guide to search for kid-friendly books by country.
Of course, if you’re traveling out of the country it’s a good opportunity for your child to work on their language skills. Not only will it make them smarter, but it may also help the entire family. Depending on their age, a good rule of thumb is to come up with a list of five new words and phrases. Teach them to your child in advance of your trip and repeat those words and phrases as often as you can so they remember and understand them.
For example, when we traveled to Germany we practiced the phrase, “I would like a water” (or milk or hot chocolate!) in German at every meal. We repeated the phrase until the kids felt comfortable enough to order on their own. We also taught them to say, “where is the hotel X?”, just in case we became separated. Other great phrases to learn include “hello”, “excuse me” and “thank you”. While you might be tempted to forego the electronics, this is a time to use them for learning. Bring along Duolingo on your phone or tablet so the kids can practice what they’ve already learned or perhaps even learn some new phrases along the way.
5. Writing Skills
While your child works on their language skills, try adding in some writing skills. Don’t force it, but it’s sometimes fun to bring along a travel journal. Have your child jot down a few things about the trip along the way, whether it’s a fun place they just visited or perhaps a place you haven’t even been to yet. You can make it more fun by taking turns as a family, then sharing what you wrote down with everyone else.
You don’t have to make it fancy. If you have younger children, try this sample for a downloadable kids journal or take a look at this list of the top 18 travel journals. As long as the kids don’t see journaling as a chore, they’re likely to find it fun. It may also provide a little distraction if you’re stuck waiting for a meal or you’re on a long stretch and need some entertainment.
While your kids are learning valuable life skills to help make them smarter, use your own time to learn, share and connect with other family travelers through FOFFit. With FOFFit you access a home sharing community that’s specific to family travelers, with family-friendly hosts and accommodations. Choose to share your home with or rent from other family travelers. Not only does FOFFit offer discounts to its community members but it also donates 10% of its profits to a local charity. To connect with other family travelers, join the FOFFit family travel community today.
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